Program Descriptions


Book Discussion Groups

Strong Girl Characters

A small group discussion delving into the many wonderful books that showcase incredible girls doing amazing things in their everyday world. You don’t need to be a superhero to create positive change. Join Melissa for this very important topic. (Appropriate for Picture Book and Middle Grade book discussion groups).

How the Power of Story Can Change the World

In a small group or classroom format, students will discuss books that share messages of empathy, respect, affirmation and hope. Why do these stories help make our world a better place? Students will be encouraged to share their own favorite stories that evoke compelling messages of love and optimism. Can story really be a positive agent of change in our world? (Appropriate for Picture book and Middle Grade book discussion groups).


Book Discussion/Workshop Combinations

The Psychology of Character for Kids

Why do we love certain characters? Because they are just like us. The most meaningful characters invite the reader to bear witness to a journey of personal perseverance and meaningful change. We all have our own story of strength. Melissa will lead students in a discussion on fictional character building, including learning a bit of child friendly psychology about the characters we discuss and about the students themselves. (Appropriate for grades 3-6, 1-2 classrooms). 

The Pizzazz of the first Page

Why is the first page one of the most important parts of the book? Because it’s the very first, and sometimes only chance to capture the heart of a reader before they put the book back on the shelf. In this presentation, Melissa describes the components of a captivating first page, including how to hook a reader and why voice is so important as she shares some award winning first pages with the group. Melissa then will lead students in constructing their own first page, including choosing an interesting protagonist, a compelling setting and an intriguing problem. Students are encouraged to complete the remainder of the story on their own, including title and cover art. (Appropriate for grades 3-6, 1-2 classrooms).



First Drafts: How the first draft changes in the editing process

No first draft ever gets an A+, not even for authors. The best writing happens in the editing process where you can perfect your craft. Melissa will share her own first drafts and show students first hand the evolution from first draft to finished product. Students are encouraged to bring a paragraph of their own to practice the art of editing. (Appropriate for grades 3-6, 1-2 classrooms).

How to Write a Middle Grade Novel

Plot. Theme. Crisis. Voice. What do these terms mean in creating a dynamic middle grade novel? How can you make characters come to life? Where do you get an idea for a story? How do you hook a reader? Answers to these questions and more will be discussed as Melissa takes students through the construction of the middle grade novel. Award winning titles will be discussed and students are encouraged share and ask questions about their own works. (Appropriate for grades 4-6, 1-2 classrooms).



The Novel Process

It’s hard to imagine just how much work and how many amazing people it takes to create a finished book. In this presentation, Melissa describes the process of finding ideas, research, writing, editing-editing-editing, promotion, foreign rights, cover art, and title selection in creating a finished book. Melissa will share specific examples of the process when different teams come together to bring a book to completion. Melissa encourages student questions and participation throughout the presentation, including the help of audience volunteers to reenact an excerpt from her new middle grade book, Lemons. Any additional student questions will be welcomed and answered at the end of the presentation. (Appropriate for a larger audience/auditorium, grades 3-6).

Bigfoot and Other Cryptozoological Mysteries of the World

Do you love Bigfoot? This program is designed to explore many different mythical stories of mysterious creatures said to exist on the planet. We will explore the evidence together and students can decide for themselves what is truth and what is lore. Melissa will share her own love of cryptozoology and share her debut novel, Lemons, and as well as a sneak peek to her upcoming book, The Truth About Martians. Do you dare to believe? (Appropriate for a larger audience/auditorium, grades 3-6).